Premier Wen Jiabao has urged government officials to
strengthen efforts to control and prevent sandstorms and
China faces a serious threat of desertification, and this
requires afforestation efforts to be stepped up, Wen told a meeting
attended by sandstorm control experts on Monday.
"It's long-term, arduous work fighting the sand, and China
should improve sand control mechanisms," Wen said.
Organizations under the State Council should strengthen
cooperation to improve sand control policies, and increase
investment in desert control, he added.
He also encouraged residents in desert areas to participate in
efforts to stop desertification.
At the meeting, Chinese scientists and experts offered
suggestions on the types of trees that could be planted in deserts,
environmental rehabilitation in the source regions of sandstorms,
adjustment of the agricultural structure in northwest China, and
establishing sandstorm monitoring and alarm systems.
They also called for greater international cooperation in the
prevention of sandstorms.
Sandstorms have hit China 17 times this year, with 12 of them
crossing international borders. China, Japan, South Korea and
Mongolia have agreed on a plan to jointly fight sandstorms.
As a result of one of the more serious storms this spring, sand
blanketed about an eighth of Chinese land from April 14 to 18, and
about 330,000 tons of sand fell on Beijing alone overnight.
A violent sandstorm hit northwest China in April, killing one
person in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and forcing
dozens of trains to suspend operations.
Deserts in the western regions of China continue to expand, said
Wu Zhongze, an official with the State Forestry Administration.
Much of the farmland in Qinghai and Gansu provinces and Xinjiang is becoming
Apart from climate factors, experts blame the advance of deserts
on rampant logging, overgrazing, excessive farming and the reckless
use of water resources.
China suffers from one of the world's most serious
desertification problems, with 2.64 million sq km -- or 27.46
percent of its territory -- having already turned into desert.
(Xinhua News Agency June 14, 2006)